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Imperial Hotel and Casino: 123 N. Third St., Cripple Creek, CO

Written by Haunted Poker for exclusive use.


Imperial Hotel and Casino

Cripple Creek is home to many casinos that offer limited-stakes gaming. Thousands come to Cripple Creek to try their luck at Poker, Blackjack, and slot machines. Others come just to take in the scenery of this former gold-mining town. There are many mines still dotting the landscape, some still in operation. Cripple Creek is also home to a few hauntings.

The Imperial Hotel Casino used to be called the Collins Hotel, in existence since the 1890’s. In 1948, the hotel’s Gold Bar Theatre was host to an acting troupe named the Imperial Players. This long-running melodrama theatre was at the hotel for nearly 50 years—the longest in United States history. In 1992, the Hotel started operating as the Imperial Hotel Casino, adding limited-stakes to its repertoire.

In 1993, a new employee came to the casino after twenty years in the Air Force. He worked the graveyard shift to fund his college education and have time for his classes. The casino doors closed at 2 am, and he reports that it would get quiet. Sometimes too quiet! He had heard talk of “George”, a slot-playing ghost. The new employee was wide-awake and looking over his shoulder for weeks! On the one hand, he was half-way afraid, and on the other, he was hoping for a glimpse of the slot-machine-loving ghost!

In 1992, the hotel/casino had its first encounter with George. A security guard heard a slot machine paying out at around 4am one night! It is mechanically impossible for this to happen on its own. If a slot machine pays out even one coin more than it is supposed to, the machine will shut down. Anyway, one Saturday night, the new employee was cleaning up downstairs. The doors had been locked for about half an hour when he heard the distinctive sound of a coin dropping in a slot machine! Upon investigation, no one was found to be in the area. George was at it again!

George Long

George Long - behind the bar

(partially obscured by camera flash)


The resident ghost is believed to be George Long. George was an Englishman who controlled the hotel in 1905. Emigrating as a young man, George had settled in Denver and married a first cousin. He was an excellent manager and made the Imperial Hotel one of the finest in the Cripple Creek area. George had two daughters and a son. The older daughter Alice suffered from a mental disorder. (A result of marrying his first cousin perhaps?) As Alice reached adolescence, she became difficult to control and had to be locked up in the apartment next to the lobby.


The Red Rooster Bar is located in that site now. It is told that one day George went down the narrow, treacherous stairs to the basement below the kitchen and met up head-on with a cast-iron skillet wielded by Alice. The former employee reports that the stairs are covered in centuries-worth of grease tracked in from the kitchen, and are narrow, steep, and dangerous. Whether it’s true or not that his daughter hit him on the head, he fell down the steps to his death.

The former employee has had an occasion where a guest has come up to him stating she was a sensitive, and telling him that the place was haunted. He and a coworker decided to take her on a tour. The sensitive got quiet as they entered the lobby. The lobby hasn’t been changed much in 100 years and retains much of its original Victorian charm. The sensitive felt a presence down the stairs, and wanted to investigate. The three went down the stairs to the theatre, and went through the dressing rooms to the stairs that led up to the kitchen, where George Long died. In this spot, the sensitive revealed sensing a very angry presence. Suffice it to say, the three explorers went back upstairs posthaste!



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